Freitag, 19. September 2014

Idealism and Materialism are not the whole Reality

The Realized Universe (Genjo kôan, Part 2)

The first paragraph of this chapter is as follows
1.     When all dharmas are (seen as) the Buddha Dharma, then there is delusion and realization, there is practice, there is life and there is death, there are Buddhas and there are ordinary beings.”

2.     When the myriad dharmas are each not of the self, there is no delusion and no realization, no Buddhas and no ordinary beings, no life and no death.”

3.     “The Buddha’s truth is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity. So there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are beings and Buddhas.”

4.     And though it is like this, it is only that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds while hated, flourish.”

What does Master Dôgen want to tell us with such important sentences which are not easy to understand? Without question they are altogether the essence of Zen Buddhist teaching, but often they are misunderstood and people are not aware of their true meaning and do not concentrate on it.

If we read this chapter of the Shôbôgenzô and especially these sentences very carefully, we understand that there are four different views or, more precisely, four philosophies of our life and of the world in general. The first sentence explains that a distinction can be made between delusion and realization, between practice and acting and life and death and between Buddha and ordinary beings. This philosophy is based on ideas and thinking, for example on the basis of theory and teaching. even the sutras in Buddhism. It is the idealistic method. But normally this philosophy expressed in sentence one is based on the belief in a separate ego or I: the thinking I has ideas and theories.

The dimension of the second sentence is completely different and represents  another method of thinking: It is the materialistic view, focused on the outside of the person. In this case the thinking I is not important. It can be characterized by “when the myriad Dharmas are each not of the self.”

It is not the subject who is thinking ideas and theories; on the contrary, it is the view and belief that there is an objective world outside us. In this case we cannot speak of delusion and realization, Buddhas and ordinary human beings, life and death. In other words the meaning of these words and ideas cannot be understood because the materialistic philosophy is not aware of the delusion and realization of Buddhas and ordinary people. The materialistic view has no understanding of the Buddhist teachings. This view sees only the outside and form and has no understanding of spiritual or mental contents. It is clear that this philosophy is very close to the understanding of the natural sciences and technology in the western world.

But as we know, the scholar Albert Einstein, who might be considered the greatest physicist of the last century, was a religious and spiritual person and he was quite aware of the limitations of our scientific understanding of the world. In the same way, the great physicists Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg are quite clear about the areas that can be understood by the thinking human brain and what cannot be understood.

Therefore we can assume that a one-sided materialistic view is not sufficient for us to understand ourselves and the world; these brilliant scholars in the  natural sciences were already aware of these limitations, more than one century ago. Another scholar, a social scientist, Niklas Luhmann, teaches us very clearly that the world is of infinite complexity. In this way science tells us to be humble and not to over-estimate what we can understand with intellectual thinking. A philosophy of life, which is just materialistic, is indeed naive and superficial.